Trump Administration Issues Temporary Jones Act Waiver for Puerto Rico

September 29, 2017

The White House announced yesterday on Twitter that President Trump “has authorized the Jones Act be waived for Puerto Rico. It will go into effect immediately.” The waiver was officially approved by the Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, on the morning of September 28, 2017, to facilitate movement of all products to be shipped from U.S. coastwise points to Puerto Rico. This waiver will expire in 10 days and applies to covered merchandise laded on board a vessel within the 10-day period of the waiver and delivered by October 18, 2017. Carriers or shippers who conduct transportation pursuant to this waiver should provide notice of the vessel, dates of embarkation and disembarkation, type and quantity of cargo, and port of embarkation to

The Jones Act, 46 United States Code (U.S.C.) § 55102, states “a vessel may not provide any part of the transportation of merchandise by water, or by land and water, between points in the United States to which the coastwise laws apply, either directly or via a foreign port” unless the vessel was built in and documented under the laws of the United States and is wholly owned by citizens of the United States. Since Puerto Rico is a point in the United States to which the coastwise laws apply, any voyages originating from a point in any part of the United States to which the coastwise laws apply and ending in Puerto Rico fall under the Jones Act.

This waiver follows similar waivers issued on September 8, 2017, and on September 11, 2017, to facilitate movement of refined petroleum products, including gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, to be shipped from New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Louisiana to South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Puerto Rico (in case of the September 8 waiver) and from New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas to Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico (in case of the September 11 waiver). Both of these waivers have since expired.

Shortly after yesterday’s temporary waiver was approved by Acting Secretary Duke, United States Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a longtime opponent of the Jones Act, and United States Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced legislation that would, if enacted, permanently exempt Puerto Rico from the Jones Act.

If you have any questions about the temporary waiver, the legislation introduced by Senators McCain and Lee, or any other issues in connection with the Jones Act, please contact any of the attorneys below or speak with your Seward & Kissel contact attorney.